Hospital Finance Jobs: Career Options and Requirements

Oct 20, 2021

There are a plethora of employment opportunities in the hospital finance field. Positions vary depending on education and experience, but skills in finance, basic medical terminology and statistics are required. On-the-job training is usually provided for those in entry-level positions.

Essential Information

Hospitals provide a unique environment for finance careers. Entry-level jobs are available to those with limited skills and education, while many more opportunities are available to those with a college degree. Jobs at senior levels require experience, an advanced degree and possibly an accounting license.

Career Title Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks Accountants and Auditors Financial Analysts Financial Managers
Required Education High school diploma and keyboarding skills for entry-level Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Associate's or bachelor's degree in accounting or related field for advanced positions Certification and licensure, depending on focus Licenses and certifications available Optional certification; 5+ years of related work experience
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)* -6% 4% 5% 15%
Median Annual Salary (2020) $42,410 $73,560 $83,660 $134,180

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Hospital Finance Entry-Level Career Options

Entry-level jobs, such as accounts payable clerk, accounts receivable clerk, patient registration associate and billing associate are available to those with limited education and experience. Some positions offer opportunities to advance to a managerial-level after accumulating several years of hospital experience. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), positions for bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerk category are projected to decline 6% from 2019 to 2029. The median annual salary for workers in this category was $42,410 in May 2020, according to the BLS.

Entry-Level Job Requirements

These positions require a high school diploma and proficient keyboarding skills at a minimum. While employers prefer knowledge of statistics, basic finance and medical terminology, on-the-job training is common. Speaking a second language is a significant asset in a hospital setting and can even substitute for education or experience. Strong verbal and written communication skills, the ability to learn billing systems and consideration of patient confidentiality are required.

Hospital Finance Career Options with Undergraduate Degrees

In addition to the entry-level jobs, an associate's or bachelor's degree can yield opportunities as hospital accountant, controller and financial analyst. Those with limited experience may also be able to achieve employment at the managerial level in some areas, such as patient billing and collections. The BLS projects that employment for accountants and auditors as well as financial analysts will grow at an average to faster-than-average pace between 2019 and 2029. The BLS reported in May 2020 that the median annual salary for accountants and auditors was $73,560, and for financial analysts it was $83,660.

Undergraduate-Level Job Requirements

While some rural hospitals accept an associate's degree in accounting and limited experience for these positions, most employers require a bachelor's degree in business or accounting combined with relevant hospital experience. Knowledge of business and finance software, such as spreadsheet and database programs, is needed for financial analyzing, modeling, forecasting, reporting and budgeting. Candidates must also possess the skills to produce and maintain accurate financial records that comply with acceptable hospital accounting standards and governmental healthcare guidelines. The ability to stay abreast of applicable laws and regulations in a dynamic environment is critical.

Hospital Finance Career Options with a Graduate Degree

Chief financial officers (CFO) and vice president (VP) of finance positions are the pinnacle of hospital finance jobs. These roles may be combined into a single position in smaller hospitals or several positions in larger ones. Some hospital groups offer an assistant CFO position, allowing candidates to be groomed for several years as future CFOs. The BLS projects that employment for financial managers will grow 15% from 2019-2029, which is much faster-than-average. The median salary for financial managers in 2020 was $134,180.

Graduate-Level Job Requirements

The integration of healthcare and finance offers unique challenges for those in senior management. In addition to meeting the technical requirements of other hospital finance roles, successful executives have sophisticated leadership and communication skills. Candidates require a master's degree in business, accounting, public health or hospital administration, and may require licensure as a certified public accountant. Job applicants must show a history of demonstrated success over 5-10 years, preferably in an acute care or trauma hospital, with increasing responsibility at each level.

Advancement is a possibility in hospital finance, and students who demonstrate exceptional leadership and communication abilities will create opportunities to move further up in their career.

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